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How to Pick the Perfect Christmas Tree

Matawan World Of Gardening Of Middlesex County Provides Tips On How How to Pick the Perfect Christmas Tree.




Measure Twice, Buy Once

Before you head out to the farm or tree lot, make sure you know just what size tree you can fit in your house. Measure the height of your ceiling, but remember to subtract the height of your stand and the tree topper you want to use to get the maximum tree height you can fit. Also clear the space where you'll put the tree and see how deep it is. Different species are different girths, so you want to be sure you won't be squishing the branches against the wall. And keep an eye on the size of your stand. You want to be sure the trunk of your tree will fit in it, and that it's big enough to keep your tree upright. If you're upgrading to a larger tree this year, you may need to invest in a bigger stand. Failure to measure accurately and you could have a tell-tail sign of the mistake.

Shop local

For the freshest and healthiest tree, you should patronize an established tree farm or a lot that brings in trees from local farms. The ones that the farms sell are grown specifically to retain their needles. Most Christmas trees are cut about 3 to 4 weeks before they arrive on the lot—usually the weekend after Thanksgiving, according to Clarke Gernon, chairman of the National Christmas Tree Association.

Once you're perusing the lot, picking the right tree is like picking ripe mango: you should smell and touch.

1. Test the branches. Grab any branch on the tree between your thumb and forefinger, gently clamp down and pull towards yourself. If you end up with a handful of needles, the tree is already past its prime.

2. Crush the needles in your hand and then check the scent. "If the tree doesn't smell enough, don't buy it," says Roger.

3. Bounce the tree by holding it a few inches above the ground and dropping it. If the exterior needles fall off, it's sure sign of a bad apple. Needles that fall off from the interior of the tree are normal.

4. Make absolutely sure the tree's trunk fits your stand. Trimming the diameter of the tree by cutting away the bark will strip the tree of its cambium layer, which absorbs water. If this happens your tree is a goner.

Wrap It Up

Before you tie up the tree, have the lot attendant put it through a shaker (if they have one—some farms use a blower, though a vigorous bounce will do as well). This will shake off any dead, interior needles. Don't worry—it's perfectly natural for an evergreen to have some dead needles on it from fall. Then have the tree sent through the baling machine to wrap it in netting for easy transport.

Make a Fresh Cut

Cutting the end off the trunk is critical to opening up the veins that will deliver water to the branches. Use a pruning saw, and take at least an inch off. You can have the lot do it before you leave if you're headed for home, but you should wait if you're going to be out more than four hours. Otherwise, the end will glaze over with new pitch, and the tree won't take up water.

Up She Goes

Now you'll have to fit the tree into the stand. Most stands have small prongs in the bottom to hold the center of the tree. After the trunk has been cut you may have to remove a few bottom limbs so that you can make contact with those prongs and the bottom of the trunk rests on the bottom of the tree stand—if not, the tree could swing side to side. While the tree is still wrapped in mesh, place it on its side and use a rubber mallet to drive the stand's prongs securely onto the trunk before tightening up the thumbscrews that hold the tree in the stand. Before tilting the tree vertical, set down some newspaper or an old rug under where the stand will be to catch any spilled water.

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